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Drugs in Sport

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Marion Jones pictured as she admitted taking steroids. Photograph: Hiroko Masuriki/Getty Images

The International Olympic committee today formally stripped the US athlete Marion Jones of the five medals she won at the Sydney games in 2000 and wiped her name from the record books.

She was also barred from next year's games in Beijing, and faces a lifetime ban from all future Olympics. Jones - who in October admitted to using steroids before she won three gold and two bronze medals at Sydney - had already handed back the medals prior to today's announcement by the IOC president, Jacques Rogge.

Last month, the International Association of Athletics Federations erased all her results dating to September 2000, but it was up to the IOC to formally disqualify her and wipe out her Olympic medals. Jones won gold medals in the 100 metres, 200 metres and the 4x400 metre relay in Sydney, taking bronze in the long jump and the 4x100 metre relay.

She was the first female track and field athlete to win five medals at a single Olympics. In addition to those medals, the IOC also disqualified Jones from her seventh placed finish in the long jump at the 2004 Athens Olympics. The move could affect the medal status of more than three dozen other athletes.

However, the IOC has postponed a decision on how the medals should be redistributed, including whether to strip her US relay team-mates of their gold medals and whether to upgrade the Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou to gold in the 100 metres. Thanou was later banned for two years for failing to attend drug testing before the Athens games.

After years of denials, Jones finally admitted taking steroids in a tearful confession in a New York courtroom in October. "It's with a great amount of shame that I stand before you and tell you that I have betrayed your trust," she said. "I have been dishonest, and you have the right to be angry with me. I have let my family down, I have let my country down, and I have let myself down."

Jones becomes the fourth US athlete in Olympic history to have a medal taken away by the IOC, and the third to have the punishment imposed for a doping offence.

Jerome Young was stripped of his 1,600 metre relay Sydney gold for an earlier doping violation, the swimmer Rick DeMont lost his 400 metre freestyle gold from the 1972 Munich games after testing positive for a banned substance in his asthma medication, and Jim Thorpe was stripped of his pentathlon and decathlon gold medals in 1912 when it was revealed he earned $25 a week playing minor league baseball.



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